By John Hubbuch
The announcement that Ray Heise is retiring after serving as Village Attorney for 36 years is really a big deal. In fact, one could argue that Mr. Heise is one of the most important people in Oak Park history.
History is filled with powerful influential people who work behind the scenes. There are your kings and queens, your elected officials and your captains of commerce. But for almost everyone of them there is the guy, often an attorney, that advises, influences, schemes and plans. They make government run smoothly. Kings get beheaded and Presidents lose elections, but the bureaucrats insure continuity. There's Machiavelli, Catherine de Medici, Rasputin, Rove, Richelieu,Metternich and Talleyrand. Some do good. Some do bad. Some do both. But no one can deny their influence.
Mr Heise lasted longer than most behind-the sceners. The 36 years he served the Village were filled with legal challenges, and his job was to advise revolving boards as to what they could do and could not do to meet those challenges. No easy job. Lawyering is not a black and white business. It is filled with shades and penumbras of complexity and ambiguity.
Now I know that there are those who would criticize Mr. Heise. As former 97 Superintendent Jack Fagan once noted: "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate." 36 years is a long time to accumulate enemies. I'm sure some of the criticism is valid.
But today I come not to bury Mr. Heise, but to praise him. I've never spoken a word to him, but I give credit for his 36 years of hard work and service that has no doubt mightly contributed to making Oak Park what it is today.